According to Renae Geerlings, in the current state of the economy and entertainment business, your best investment is yourself.
That’s why she and husbandTyler Mane wrote and produced “Compound Fracture” themselves, and have been personally touring it to movie theaters all over North America, including a June 26, 2013 stop in Grand Rapids. It’ll be a homecoming for Geerlings, a Zeeland native and Hope College graduate, an opportunity to show the product of her hard work to friends and family.
“Compound Fracture” was designed to be a vehicle for Mane, best known for his big-screen roles as Sabretooth in 1999’s “X-Men” and as Michael Myers in the Rob Zombie-directed “Halloween” remakes. Although the movie caters to Mane’s hardcore horror-fan following, Geerlings calls it a “genre-bender” that’s eschews gore and nudity for a more thoughtful story about a family literally haunted by its past.
Mane plays Michael Wolffsen, who takes custody of his nephew after he witnesses his mother’s death. Michael goes home to his father (Muse Watson, “I Know What You Did Last Summer”), and during the visit, is targeted for death by the ghost of his brother-in-law (Derek Mears, of the 2009 “Friday the 13th” remake). Geerlings also has a supporting role.
“It’s more like ‘The Amityville Horror’ or ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ more of a slow burn,” she said. “The idea that we are a product of the generations before us figures into the film… the son comes home, and has to deal with the sins of the father.”
“It’s more story driven,” Mane said. “With so many horror movies, you line up the teenagers, get ‘em naked and go, ‘That one’s gonna die. Then that one’s gonna die.’ … (‘Compound Fracture’) will keep you engaged from start to finish.”
The Grand Rapids screening will include a post-film Q&A with Geerlings and Mane, and those who purchase VIP tickets can attend a meet-and-greet autograph session. Tying in with one of the film’s themes, and in memory of Geerlings’ grandmother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, $5 of every VIP ticket will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association. A portion of the proceeds from the entire “Compound Fracture” tour will also benefit Scares That Care, a nonprofit that raises money and awareness for sick and injured children.
“Compound Fracture,” filmed in Los Angeles, where Geerlings and Mane live, is the first of many movies the couple hopes to make together under their Mane Entertainment production-company banner. They’ve been personally touring the movie since March, meeting fans and promoting it themselves. Geerlings said they hope to secure a distribution deal for DVD and on-demand release soon. As the tour, now in its fifth leg, winds down, they’ve already started work on a thriller titled “Penance Lane.”
“(‘Penance Lane’) will be much more gritty than ‘Compound Fracture,’” Geerlings said, adding with a laugh, “This one, I can show my mother.”
Part of Geerlings’ return to West Michigan includes a reunion of her fellow theater graduates at Hope, where she studied acting before moving to Los Angeles in the mid-’90s. She took a temp job at Top Cow Productions, publisher of comic books such as “Witchblade” and “The Darkness,” where she eventually became editor-in-chief. Although working as a comic-book editor was an unusual occupation for a theater major and aspiring actress – “I thought it’d last a couple years, but it turned into 10,” she said – it was key to her personal and professional destiny: while attending the Wizard World comic convention in Chicago for Top Cow in 2000, she met Mane, then promoting his “X-Men” appearance.
Although Mane is thankful for the devoted following of horror-movie fans – “They’re very committed, very loyal,” he said – he and Geerlings are hoping to develop roles that ask him to be more than just the hulking villain. At 6’8”, he tends to be typecast in Hollywood, and as a kid, he dreamed of starring in action movies. So in order to explore more creative avenues, it made sense for the two of them to invest in themselves.
“I’ve been very lucky to have good, iconic roles. But I wanted to do a movie where we’re able to have control of the project from start to finish,” he said. “As an actor on someone else’s project, you put your best foot forward, and then you’re done. You have no control over putting your work out there.”